Webster defines the word “meeting” beyond the obvious simplistic – gathering of humans. It means, “to be present at the arrival of,” a noun filled with both intention and fertile expectation. As the overseer of many meetings to come, your position of leadership means you hold the responsibility of Head “Bringer.”  This should trigger the reflective question, “bringer of what beyond the obvious facts and figures?”

Yep, this blog post is about meetings. Not the 15 Minute Meeting Manager, or 72 Ways to Oar Paddle a Long Ship, but how personal authenticity humanizes key gatherings of staff, peers, comrades, friends, and yes, even family. It’s how to talk so that staff members, even if they are Vikings, will listen.

As Leader you hold all of the past, present, and future events of the company in your mind’s eye, and then the palm of your hand, for the briefest of moments in time.  To lead other people with confidence and truthfulness is an honor I tried to live up to every day I walked into work.

Certainly, had the Vikings been able to read Ten Ways to Conquer a Village without Fire, the world would have been spared substantial carnage. The Norsemen did their best given the tools at hand. Bjorn himself demonstrated all the requisite gifts for leadership. He was courageous, charismatic, bold, knew how to use the broad sword if necessary, and, naturally, he had those steely blue eyes. Still, with all of that going for him, in order to successfully lead his crew he needed to learn some valuable fundamentals of leadership:

• Focus your gaze, and pay close attention to the issues at hand.
• Authenticity – set an example by sharing your vision and your humanity.
• Communicate – use illustrations and story to inspire trust, cohesion, and camaraderie.
• Create a culture for success.

So where are you on the Bjorn curve? Are you able to pay attention to what really counts? Can you tell people what you think so that they not only hear ‘it’ but also believe ‘it’? Do you have enough confidence, personal resources, courage and creativity to take ‘it’ for the whole journey? If not, can you honestly look at what’s missing, get advice, find support and pull ‘it’ off? Can you have fun with ‘it’ on the way?

By ‘it’ I refer to both the universal ‘it’ and the personal ‘it.’ What is ‘it?’ It’s your personal definition of leadership, achievement, success, and drive. It’s the ever-changing personal mystery that pulls each of us through life. No matter the context: running an enterprise large or small, managing a division, department, coaching Little League, delivering a sermon, being a sole practitioner, dealing with your family or friends, ‘it’ always comes into play.

Perhaps you are wrestling with my choice of footwear? Was I truly barefoot on a daily basis? Did I own a pair of closed toed shoes? Can one wear a tie and go barefoot? Does that cross some invisible boundary line? Does it matter? My choice of title refers both to my shoe preference and metaphorically to my need to find comfort and authenticity at work. Craft an environment that suits your contentment and achievement. Be barefoot in your own way, and notice the level of confidence and power that breeds towards reaching your goals.